When people find themselves in a financial crisis, many don’t know where to turn. If you feel overwhelmed by collection calls and threats of legal action from your creditors, it may be time to sit down with a qualified bankruptcy attorney to determine whether filing for bankruptcy is a viable solution to your issues.
Bankruptcy is a special legal and financial tool available under federal law. It is a powerful process that can be leveraged by individuals or organizations who find themselves mired in debts they cannot reasonably be expected to pay off under their current circumstances. The process involves the reduction, restructuring, or settling of debts and, in turn, their elimination as stressors in your life. Sometimes you need a fresh start where fiscal matters are concerned — bankruptcy offers a path there.
Bankruptcy law is a federal matter, although there may be certain regulations and exemptions specific to Texas citizens. If you’re filing for bankruptcy in the Glen Rose area, a qualified, local bankruptcy attorney will be a crucial resource for getting your case processed efficiently and with optimal outcomes. When you need help deciding what to do and whether bankruptcy is the best option, contact our firm. Steel Law Firm has helped people in situations just like yours with compassion and expertise. We work to help stop garnishment, lawsuits, judgments, and the harassment of creditors. We can help you get the fresh start you deserve.
Depending on your circumstances, the options available and the regulations that govern different bankruptcy chapters can look quite different from case to case. Discuss the specifics of your case with our team, and we can determine the best option for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy and chapter 13 bankruptcy are the most used forms of the process and tend to represent the least complicated bankruptcy cases.
However, chapter 7 and chapter 13 aren’t the only options. The different chapters of the United States bankruptcy code are as follows:
- Chapter 7 is the most common type of bankruptcy case in the United States, as well as the simplest to process. Chapter 7 liquidates an individual’s remaining property and assets and distributes the proceeds to their creditors, thereby clearing all debts. There are exemptions for certain types of property to protect it from liquidation, but there are likewise certain types of debts that are also exempt — notably back taxes and federal student loans.
A small business with relatively simple assets may also be able to file under chapter 7, usually with a court-appointed trustee taking oversight of the business as it goes through its liquidation phase. After a chapter 7 bankruptcy closes, your debts are cleared, and creditors are legally obligated to cease all collection activities.
- Chapter 9 is a special type of bankruptcy available to municipalities. Under the law, these are discrete entities with their own finances and liabilities. With rapidly shifting tax bases and property values, municipalities can experience crises that aren’t any different than an individual’s or company’s. The most notable chapter 9 case in recent times involved the City of Detroit filing a suit five years after the 2008 financial crisis.
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy is called reorganization bankruptcy, and, like chapter 7, it is open to businesses and individuals. It differs from chapter 7 because the debtor is not required to sell off all assets and may remain in control of business interests. Typically, chapter 11 involves negotiating changes to debts and payment structures so that a business can survive a time of financial hardship and continue operating as normal thereafter.
- Chapter 12 bankruptcy is specific to family farms and family fishing operations. Chapter 12 restructures the debts of such an enterprise so that they can be paid back on a court-approved timeline.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy applies to people who earn regular income. Under chapter 13, someone who works or otherwise receives a regular income can restructure or reduce their debts and create a fair and reasonable plan to pay them off. Chapter 13 can protect a person’s critical assets from the liquidation processes that are used under chapter 7, thereby avoiding repossession of vehicles or foreclosures on homes.
- Chapter 15 was added to the United States bankruptcy code in 2005 and involves international bankruptcies. It is designed to facilitate cooperation between U.S. authorities, foreign courts, and foreign debtors. Someone who owns assets in multiple countries and/or has outstanding debts in multiple countries would likely need to file under Chapter 15.
While these aren’t options you’ll likely need, knowing what’s available can help your confidence. We will be sure to explain which option works best for your unique situation, and when it comes to financial issues, every situation is unique. This is true for individuals, families, and small businesses.
The federal code, as well as some additional bankruptcy rules specific to Texas, may offer certain protections to you when you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy (the most common type). Leveraging these exemptions can be a powerful way to protect your family and basic needs throughout the bankruptcy process. Exemptions you may qualify for in Texas bankruptcy proceedings include:
- Automobile exemption. The nature of American cities and the long distances between Texas towns make reliable automobiles a necessity for many families. Courts must acknowledge this.
- Personal property exemption. Family heirlooms, jewelry of great personal meaning, and other items can sometimes be saved from the liquidation process under some circumstances.
- Homestead exemption. A commonly filed exemption that can help ensure your family retains its primary residence.
- Retirement funds, social security, disability, and alimony. Retirement accounts and structured income that you count on to meet your day-to-day needs can be exempted from the process. Remember, bankruptcy should improve your future — not jeopardize it.
As with any form of legal counsel, the cost of a qualified attorney to represent you in bankruptcy proceedings can vary greatly. This will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The chapter under which you file
- The size and complexity of assets and debts involved
- Your geographical location
- The quality of your bankruptcy lawyer
Some prominent law firms will advertise flat fees for processing simple bankruptcy cases, and they may even take on clients in multiple states. Bankruptcy fees at these firms can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Reputable attorneys will prefer to schedule a free consultation to ensure they fully understand the details of your case before quoting any price for services. When you are looking for skilled bankruptcy attorneys, be sure to work with an organization you can trust.
The reality is that your family’s future may hang on the specific terms of a bankruptcy, so there may never be a more important time to seek advice and representation of the highest quality.
Watch for a few things when choosing a bankruptcy attorney:
- Do they have specific expertise? There are a lot of “do it all” law firms that can process routine procedures like bankruptcies for a low cost, but that doesn’t make them bankruptcy experts. A dedicated bankruptcy attorney can give your case the attention it requires and apply their specialized experience to your case, leading to better outcomes.
- Are they detail-oriented? If your would-be lawyer is more concerned with getting your credit card information than getting all of the pertinent details of your case, consider looking elsewhere. A good attorney will indeed be a financial investment, but they will always want to understand exactly what sort of case they’re working with before they talk fees.
- Are they local? Internet law firms who advertise representation to clients in any state may lack the localized expertise necessary to navigate your case through the Texas courts. Worse, these websites may not be law firms at all but merely marketing websites that collect a fee to refer your case to a lawyer in your area.
Remember that bankruptcy is not something to be ashamed of. It’s an investment in a better future. By retaining world-class legal services from Steele Law Firm, PLLC, you can protect your family and minimize your liabilities while putting stubborn debts behind you for good.
There is no reason to feel overwhelmed if you’re struggling with debt. Our skilled team of attorneys can advise you, so you don’t waste years trying to find a solution. Whether you’ve been denied bankruptcy or need help starting the process, you can rely on us.
If your financial situation is in no chance of improving any time soon, filing for bankruptcy may be the prudent and responsible solution for protecting your family’s needs and securing a path to full financial recovery in the future. Steele Law Firm, PLLC, can assist you through this stressful and uncertain time. We have helped hundreds of clients free themselves from the burden of debt through our compassionate and individualized approach to every bankruptcy. Contact us today—the first consultation is always free.